Providing summer food boxes to families with school-age children
By Emily Banks Wooten
Four hundred eleven families, or 1,164 individuals, were served during the month of May by volunteers at the MannaFest Food Pantry located at 803 W. Feagin in Livingston. The average number of families served per day was 46.
Families with school-age children are eligible to receive summer food boxes, a program that will continue throughout the summer.
Executive Director Marilyn Wise and Volunteer Beth Roberts attended the Southeast Texas Annual Agency Conference on May 6 in Beaumont.
“The bulk of our morning was taken up with a poverty simulation. Beth was a seven-year-old autistic child in a poverty-stricken family, and I was an 11-year-old boy living with his dad and his sister and her baby. We had to live through four weeks of navigating the ins and outs of jobs, food stamps, social service agencies, childcare and emergencies. Even though our weeks were less than 20 minutes each, we got the idea,” Wise said.
“As a member of Southeast Texas Food Bank, we are required to have a monitor visit once a year. This visit is to check to make sure we are following food safety measures and training requirements and that we are doing paperwork correctly, among other things. Most of my notes from our visit on May 25 involved application procedures, which we have corrected,” Wise said.
“Southeast Texas Food Bank is amazing, as they do not visit us to point out our faults, but to work with us to make sure we are doing the best we can for our customers. Also, this month they gave us a $1,000 grant to help with the purchase of five new stainless-steel tables, two of which have taken the place of tables that had surfaces not easily sanitized. The other three tables are rolling tables to help us with moving food around the pantry,” Wise said.
“On Saturday, May 28, 12 of our volunteers worked at EagleFest, an outdoor concert in Onalaska sponsored by the Eagle radio station. We collected almost 700 pounds of nonperishable food, plus $120 in cash. The radio station provides raffle tickets for those donating to us, and several lucky donors won prizes throughout the day,” Wise said. “This is the first time since 2019 that this event has been held and we were very glad to have it back.
“On June 6, 18 of us went to Margot Dorwin’s memorial service. We all wore our orange MannaFest shirts. Margot loved MannaFest, whether bagging beans or handling security for Tour of Homes. I think we showed not only how loved Margot was, but what a family we are,” Wise said.
“We received weekly donations from both Walmart and Dollar General, as well as 1,136 pounds from individuals. This month, we spent $1,388.53on hygiene items, as well as $3,249.09 on food, about half of which was for summer food boxes,” Wise said.
“We also had an extra expense this month. One of our trees needed to come down, and we had numerous tree branches on our roof which needed to be cut back. Elite Tree Services did all the work, including cleaning up and hauling away, for half of their bid price, for which we are very thankful,” Wise said.
The office will be closed Monday, July 4 for the Independence Day holiday but will be open Saturday, July 2. The quarterly board meeting is slated for 1 p.m. July 11 at the First United Methodist Church.
“Please let me know if you have any questions or suggestions. And, as always, thank you for your support,” Wise said.